Sustainability is serious business in Atlanta at old Sears building

Sustainability is a focus at redevelopment projects in Atlanta, such as the 2-million-square-foot Ponce City Market, which plans to have 260 residential units, plus retail, restaurants and office space.

The redevelopment of the old Sears building on Ponce De Leon Avenue, which formerly served as City Hall East, is expected to be complete next year. Atlanta-based Jamestown also transformed the historic White Provision building in West Midtown into a development with luxury condos, shops, restaurants and offices.

Walter Brown, senior vice president of development and sustainability for Jamestown, chatted about the environmental sustainability efforts at Ponce City Market.

Q: What are some of the key sustainable efforts at Ponce City Market?

A: We will be a LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Silver certified building. For an 80-year-old building, we think that's pretty good. That will save us millions of dollars in energy and water. In the apartments, we're going for LEED for Homes (a certification program also offered by the U.S. Green Building Council).

Q: What's an example of something interesting you're doing with water at Ponce City Market?

A: A lot of people know that Ponce City Market was built over the old Ponce springs. While the original spring location was lost during the original construction, there is a lot of groundwater in low areas around the building we hope to capture and pump up to our water tank on top of the Sears building. The lovely tower facade actually hides the original 45,000-gallon water tank we're going to reuse to supply harvested groundwater to the central cooling towers. We'll be putting some of the Ponce Spring water back to good use that way and saving up to 65,000 gallons of water on very hot humid days to cool the whole building.

Q: How is Ponce City Market going to use its location along the Beltline?

A: With the Beltline coming right by the building, we are welcoming bicycles and any form of alternative transportation in a big, big way. We will have a couple of hundred bike spaces. We will have secure bicycle parking (for the residents). We will have lots of electric car charging stations.

Q: What eco-friendly aspects will be offered in the apartments?

A: We will be providing efficient stacked washers and dryers. We're going to have energy recovery units for the entire ventilation system. It will have much better air quality. Somebody going into the old building will enjoy the old but appreciate the new.

Green picks

These three alternative products reflect innovative efforts to reduce energy consumption and improve comfort and building durability, said Walter Brown, senior vice president of development and sustainability for Jamestown.

Philips hue

Philips hue is a personal wireless lighting system using color-changing, dimmable LED bulbs, which can be preset and customized. You could change the color of the lighting in your dining room to candlelight, for example, and even use a photo on your phone to create a color palette for a room, according to Philips. One “wake-up” preset mimics the sunrise. $199, at Apple stores.


The sustainable bamboo decking offers a more natural look than other recycled plastic decking options, which often do not look like wood, Brown said. The decking product uses a natural, formaldehyde-free adhesive made with soy. It also provides long-term durability and resists moisture, according to the company.

Electronically tintable glass

The self-tinting SageGlass window pane can be programmed to change its tint based on factors such as the outside temperature. Called “electrochromic glass” or “smart glass,” it is an option for homeowners who want to eliminate curtains or shades so that light can come into their home, but want to keep heating and air conditioning costs down. Brown equates the technology to wearing progressive sunglasses. “As the sun increases contact with the glass, this particular glass will tint accordingly,” Brown said.